As the Colonial Pipeline outage stretches into the middle of the week, US officials are warning American motorists not to hoard gasoline.
Pete Buttigieg issued a warning on Wednesday at the White House, urging Americans not to fill plastic bags with gasoline amid an ongoing fuel shortage caused by a cyber attack that has crippled the pipeline.
“I will say that this is a time to be sensible and to be safe, of course we understand the concern in areas where people are encountering temporary supply disruptions, but hoarding does not make things better,” said Mr Buttigieg.
“And under no circumstances should gasoline ever be put into anything but a vehicle directly or an approved container, and that of course remains true no matter what else is going on,” he added.
The transport secretary’s warning came as the federal agency responsible for consumer safety issued the same warning to motorists earlier on Wednesday.
"Do not fill plastic bags with gasoline," wrote the US Consumer Product Safety Commission on Twitter. "Use only containers approved for fuel."
It continued: "When using a gas canister, never pour gasoline over or near an open flame, [and] NEVER pour flammable liquids from a container over an exposed flame."
The rush to fill containers — and even plastic bags — with fuel follows a a cyber attack against the Colonial Pipeline on Friday, which supplies nearly half of the East Coast’s fuel. So far, it is not known when flow will be fully restored. The company is set to announce later on Wednesday whether it is able to restart operations.
During the White House briefing, Mr Buttigeig added that he Biden administration was working “with every level of government that is available” to address the shortage.
The transport secretary added that the shortages were a reminder that some of the US’ infrastructure was not federally owned or operated, and the the Biden administration’s proposals for billions in infrastructure spending are focused on reinforcing the grid.
“This is what we have in mind when we talk about resilience,” said Mr Buttigeig. “We need to make sure our infrastructure is resilient to climate security issues, caused by increasing severity of weather, but we also need to be sure that we are resilient in the face of cyber threats, and certainly its certainly the kinds of things the American Jobs Plan will be funding and supporting.”
Images of motorists filling plastic bags, barrels and other forms of containers with gasoline meanwhile appeared on Twitter.